Boston University College of Fine Arts
808 Commonwealth Ave, #406D

  1. T +1 475 441 1665
  2. E mh656@bu.edu

Exercise 1 – pen tool
Exercise 2 – selection tool

Assignment 1a – Visual Representation of Music


Thinking about what makes a series. Expressing an abstract concept while having formal limitations.

  • Choose three musical pieces of different genre.
  • The 3 pieces should be instrumentals. They should also not be playing on Boston’s mainstream pop radios. For each of them, select a 30 seconds segment that you will represent graphically using illustrator.
  • Crop your 30 seconds segment with an audio-editing software and make it ready for listening in class.
  • Create 3 visual *abstract* compositions that best convey the music of your chosen pieces. The 3 artworks should be part of a series, meaning that each of them represent their respective genre but are together formally united. (Should some specific elements repeat in the tryptich?)
  • Only abstract shapes are allowed, any kind, big or small contrasts, strokes or fills, etc. Nothing photographic. Black and white, no shades of grey.
  • Can be rational and meticulous or expressive.
  • Print your 3 compositions on the front of 3 handcrafted 7 inches vinyl sleeves with a spine. The back side of the case only should be printed in black and have the information about the song (artist, title, genre, duration) written with the Frutiger typeface, bold, 11 points, tracking: 10 points. Allow a margin of 1.5 cm around the whole backcover – no text should be in that zone. Write the title and artist name on the spine, also using Frutiger in bold, smaller size. Be careful with the thickness of your cardboard. Perfect thickness will print and fold easily. Use a laser printer, preferably.
  • Please do consider making the compositions by hand (using black and white papers) instead of jumping directly into illustrator.
  • Rhythm, beat, frequencies, musicality, melody, harmony, cacophony, expression, etc.
  • Available template: click me.

Assignment 1b – Object Iterations Express


This assignment enables you to learn to see, control and evaluate visual form by developing form making and visualization techniques. You will explore different representation methods to communicate object, form and ideas.

  • Select an everyday object and represent it 32 times using a wide variety of imagemaking mediums: drawing, photography, digital media, mixed media, found objects / images and type. Explore a wide range of techniques. 20 of the images should be denotative, and 12 images connotative.
  • Keep a consistent layout for all your visuals. Size: 5"×7"; portrait, bleed. Color laser copier.
  • (...)
  • Denotation: the literal or primary meaning of a word; indicating or referring to something by word or symbol; redundant, signify, name, direct, specific.
  • Connotation: an idea or feeling that a word invokes, implication of ideas or feelings; suggestive, representational, emotive, imply.
  • Stylization: depict or treat in a mannered and non-realistic style. Object remains recognizable.
  • Abstraction: dealing with ideas, essence. representational. Object is not recognizable.
  • (...)
  • For the first meeting: write a *detailed* (denotative and connotative) description of your object and create 20 representations of your object.
  • For the second meeting: create additional representations of the object, choose a front and back cover, print and bind everything using the saddle-stitch technique.
  • Execute any of the following techniques without repeating yourself: photographic, photocopy, photocopy smear, hand tracing, freehand line drawing, blind contour drawing, pen + ink drawing, ink wash, digital line drawing, line drawing with paint, line drawing with pencil, line drawing with charcoal / pastel, type only, realistic digital illustration (stroke + fill), digital translation of blind contour drawing, digital abstraction, digital stylization, crazy digital, found line drawing, collage newspaper / magazine, video still, photogram, linoleum print, stamp, dots, cardboard sculpture, combine any 2, combine any 3, connotative photo (found or made), icon / symbol, color stencil.

Assignment 2 – Introduction to Identity Systems / Branding

For this assignment you will rebrand an existing local business. Using the following methodology you will develop a new mark and its related applications, proposing an entirely new identity system.


Explore and study the following concepts: learn mark making methodology through inventive and original formmaking; focus on design process; conceptual problem solving; concept based form making; logo creation; visual systems. Consider context vs audience; create serial work; connect form making and image making. Skills: content generation; photography; identity application / branding. Explore the flexibily and variation of identity systems throughout brand applications.


Identify and research a Boston store to rebrand. Keep it local / avoid corporations. Collect as much visual research as possible: existing store materials (catalogs, business cards, signage, coupons, banners, display posters, advertisements) to present your client. Photograph the store, noting its surroundings, merchandise, audience (clientele) and general store philosophy/atmosphere. Arrange above visual materials for class presentation (8 slides).

Mark Development

Define your store through word lists: create two lists of 5 words (denotative and connotative) to describe your store. Consider what you would like to change about the current identity. Why?

Draw a mark for each word in your sketchbook.

In class workshop: choose an animal to represent your store. What type of animal is it? Consider adjectives and characteristics. How could those support the spirit of your brand? Make a list of 5 words to describe your animal and represent each word with a mark. Begin to group above words together thematically to see where you identify overlaps or associations. The more specific you are, the more helpful this step will be. Words will range from concrete to abstract, poetic to literal. Using all word lists, draw single images that visually represent the brand. Begin synthesizing images to form a final identity mark.

Derivatives / Applications

Design a set of five icons representing functions or services related to the store. Use geometry of icons to create three different patterns. Explore potential applications for your patterns. Apply above system to at least two products from the following list: t-shirt, packaging (gift wrapping paper, shopping bag), signage or other merchandize relevant to your store.

Printed Advert

Design a poster to serve an urban promotion for the brand (featured at bus or T stops).


  • identity mark (logo)
  • business card 3.5” × 2” or European size
  • letterhead 8.5” × 11” or European size
  • envelope 4.125” × 9.5” or European size
  • 5 icons
  • 3 patterns
  • product #1
  • product #2
  • urban promotion poster
  • client presentation

Assignment 3 – Event Poster

There are endless of approaches to the design of a printed image. This assignment will focus on a philosophy of making images that considers a reproduction technique in relationship with a subject. The process of designing images will be one where the student will undergo an analysis of the means she/he disposes for the printing of his project. There are many techniques that can be used according to context. In the industry of large-runs production, the techniques below are some examples that are commonly used:

  • Offset printing
  • Screenprinting / silkscreen / serigraph printing
  • Digital printing – laser (xerography, print-on-demand), indigo
  • Digital printing – inkjet
  • Flexography
  • Rotogravure
  • Letterpress, hot stamping (dyes)
  • Lithography
  • Mimeography
  • Offset printing
  • 3D printing
  • etc.

Realistically, this assignment will not require students to use these technologies to output their results. However the students will have to consider, at times, the printing specifications to make sure their files are correctly setup. (In general, we will output simulations and mock-ups in this class) This assignment also introduces a working method that can be challenged by the student’s own intuituve approach.

Printing knowledge is greatly acquired by “on-press” experience.

One of the task of the Graphic Designer is to get one’s attention; to reach an audience. To do so, in this assignment, we will advocate for a design that is expressly formal: communication that is transmitted through a language arranged in a set of compelling and coherent forms. You will invent and abstract form, identify form making processes and strengths, use type as form and control typographic compositions. Create meaning with form.

Format / Colors

24" × 36" or A1, 2—3 colors (or negotiable exceptions)

Get Started

Choose an existing event that sparks your interest. Rename that event with a word or a sentence in lieu of title to your event – i.e. “Building and Breath” (Yale Architecture – lecture on Oct 13 2016). Keep away from pop culture or if need be, intellectualize pop culture. Keep in mind that your subject should trigger smart conversations and thoughts during class. Choose carefully, your titling should be full of visual references.


  1. November 2

    Introduction to the assignment / Presentation on Printing
    Students chose an event, describe what the event consists of while mentioning venue details

  2. November 7

    Presentation / Offset Printing + Integrated Typography
    Event as been chosen and renamed
    Work session

  3. November 9

    Students focus on two activities:
    — Sketches of ideas that best illustrate your theme (no typography) (sketchbook)
    — Experiment formal approaches using your event title as a visual guide

    Your experimentation MUST deal with 3 concepts: “layers, color and overprint”
    Your regular sketches can influence your formal experiments and vice-versa
    Your experiments should be synthetized into 8 compositions
    Visually rich and compelling, your technique raises questions on the process
    4 digitally composed
    4 physically designed (layers, color and overprint is apparent in materiality
    Bring your regular sketches to class
    Bring your 8 compositions to class (format 6 × 8.6" or 6 × 8.4")

  4. November 14

    Presentation: File Setup
    Work session

  5. November 16

    10 (8 + 2 new ones) compositions of your formal experiments with added
    typography (1st level), use your event name only.
    *** To do: describe your printing situation with clarity and in detail as if you were introducing your poster to a potential printing representative

  6. November 21

    Meetings one on one
    Work session in class
    Touch-ups and second level typography

  7. November 28

    Final critique

  8. November 30

    — 10 composition with typography
    — final poster trimmed to size
    — gif animation